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Buyout firm Portobello seals first exit


The sale of its stake in a Spanish explosives manufacturer is a bellwether deal for Portobello, whose management was dismissed by the backers of its former firm
Spanish buyout firm Portobello Capital has sold its stake in one of the country’s explosives manufacturers in a bellwether deal the group, whose management was dismissed by the backers of its former firm.
Madrid-based Portobello Capital and peer Vista Capital have sold their almost 50% stake in Spanish explosives manufacturer Maxam to buyout firm Advent International, according to a statement. The remaining shares are controlled by Maxam’s management team. The deal’s value has not been disclosed.
The sale represents Portobello’s first exit since it was founded in December, according to the firm, after an unusual dispute with the sponsor of the senior management team’s previous firm, Ibersuizas.
Íñigo Sánchez Asiaín, partner at Portobello, declined to disclose the firm’s return on Maxam but said it had returned a “substantial” proportion of its fund to investors following the deal.
He said: “[Maxam] is a very important divestment as it is the first one and it is the first piece of news we put forward to our investors. We are in the process of contemplating several other divestments and we expect good returns for all of them.”
A year ago, Portobello’s four founders were dismissed from Ibersuizas, a family office, they claimed to Private Equity News in April. Ibersuizas said in April it had dismissed only one of them.
Ibersuizas is a family office, which manages money on behalf of wealthy individuals, set up by powerful Spanish business families and institutions including the García Baquero family and Spanish bank Banco Pastor.
The departure of Íñigo Sánchez Asiaín, Juan Luis Ramírez Belaustegui, Ramón Cerdeiras and Fernando Chinchurreta had ramifications that ultimately led to the creation of Portobello, and the subsequent transfer of the two most recent Ibersuizas funds to the new firm following an investor vote. The management of about €500m of funds committed by Spanish and international investors were transferred as part of the saga.
Jos van Gisbergen, a senior portfolio manager at Dutch investor Syntrus Achmea, said in April the dispute was rare. He said: “When a firm normally goes its own way the office is often supportive. I have never seen this situation, where the other [investors] are backing the team and the sponsor is opposed.”
Following a significant personnel shake-up, firms face pressure to ensure confidence in the team from investors by delivering strong returns so that they can raise new funds.
PAI Partners has been one of the highest-profile examples of senior management changes in recent years, with Lionel Zinsou replacing former heads Dominique Mégret and Bertrand Meunier in 2009. PAI has since delivered billions of euros in returns to its investors from sales including a €2.1bn sale of engineering company Spie to a consortium comprising buyout firms Axa Private Equity, Clayton Dubilier & Rice and asset manager Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec in May
Jennifer Bollen